Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guest Blogger: Follow-up to "The Big C"

So after I published "The Big C" I received an e-mail from David Haas asking if I was receptive to a guest post. Guest Post! My little blog had a guest post request! Cool. David submitted what he had in mind it is a great fit. I hope you enjoy.  Here goes:

Exercise Improves Energy and Body Image of Cancer Patients and Survivors

Several years ago, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) assembled 13 researchers with expertise in the areas of cancer, fitness, obesity and exercise training. The researchers formulated fitness guidelines for cancer patients, and individuals who complete cancer treatment. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise published the guidelines in July 2010.

Most people understand the benefits of regular exercise, including lower blood pressure, reduced anxiety, enhanced cardiovascular improved body image and better self-esteem. However, when a person receives a cancer diagnosis and treatment, it may take some time for the individual to get over the initial shock.

In time, these individuals face more challenges, which make it difficult to get the necessary exercise. Often, fatigue keeps cancer survivors in a weakened state—lasting as long as five years after completion of treatment.

Focus of the Guidelines

The lead author of the study, Dr. Kathryn Schmitz of the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center, points to heavily documented cases that show improvements in fatigue and overall physical functioning. Dr.

Rachel Ballard-Barash, of the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences said, the data confirming the relationship between exercise and an improved lifestyle, for active cancer patients and individuals who have completed treatment, “is incredibly strong.”

Another co-authored of the guidelines, Dr. Kerry professor and Canada Research Chair in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, at the University of Alberta, states in a 2008 study, lack of physical activities by cancer survivors increase the recurrence risk of cancer.

The researchers emphasize objectives and targets for people with cancers, which have adequate evidence for making recommendations, including colon, gynecologic, prostate, mesothelioma and breast cancer. For cancer patients who require surgery, which significantly changes their appearance—neck or head cancer, according to Dr. Schmitz, “There’s good evidence in the literature that physical activity can improve body image and that may be one mechanism through which exercise can improve quality of life.”

Work With Your Doctor

Cancer patients and survivors must consult with their doctor to develop a fitness routine that works for them. For example, a male who have completed the required therapy for prostate cancer, need a routine that considers his increase risk to fractures. Performing resistance training and aerobic exercises under the supervision of your doctor ensures the safe and proper volume, intensity and progression of your fitness program.

David Haas
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Guest Blogger -

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Read this today in N.T. Wright's book, "Simply Christian."

I know that for many of my readers that very word "church" will carry the overtones of large, dark buildings, pompous religious pronouncements, false solemnity, and rank hypocrisy. But there is not easy alternative I, too, feel the weight of that negative image. I battle with it professionally all the time.

But there is another side to it, a side which shows all the signs of the wind and fire, of the bird brooding over the waters and bringing new life. For many, "church" means just the opposite of that negative image. It's a place of welcome and laughter, of healing and hope, of friends and family and justice and new life. It's where the homeless drop in for a bowl of soup and the elderly stop by for a chat. It's where one group is working to help drug addicts and another is campaigning for global justice. It's where you'll find people learning to pray, coming to faith, struggling with temptation, finding new purpose, and getting in touch with a new power to carry out that purpose. It's where people bring their own small faith and discover, in getting together with others to worship the one true God, that the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. No church is like this all the time. But a remarkable number of churches of partly like that for quite a lot of the time.

Couldn't have said this any better than N.T. Wright did. Selah.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Nearly every day you and I learn about cancer, the Big "C" whether we like it or not. It attacks and claims those we love. I know it causes me to shake my fist, not necessarily at GOD, but at the disease itself. A scourge that is only too familiar, and painful, and sad. There is a happy ending to match every tragic ending.

Last week I was worried sick over a friend who'd been told that she had uterine cancer. Lisa had surgery two days ago and received a good report that her cancer had not spread to any surrounding organs. Her prognosis looks good.
This week one of my Greenwood clients said that the doctors told her she had new cancer. She's been healed once and is believing for a miracle again.
Uncle Herman Fickes--Prostate Cancer. Herman is my husband's uncle.
Chrissy Titus--passed away after a long battle with stage 4 stomach cancer. May she rest in peace. Chrissy fought long and hard and was a good woman who helped to raise several children, one of them being my adopted daughter Erin Titus.
Jerry Rushing beat cancer twice. He is a godly man, father and husband to Luanne. We're life-long friends and rejoice that he is still around.
Diane--my own mother is a breast cancer survivor. Radiation treatments were brutal for her. I love her bunches. I need her to be around for a long time.
Aunt Jean--cancer that resulted in a hysterectomy by age 30.
Grandma Garland--stomach and esophageal cancer. God bless her. We all miss her so much to this day!
Aunt Janet--rare blood cancer. Alive and well and her hair has grown back.
Susan Fritz--best hairdresser in all of Pennsylvania beat breast cancer and opted for mastectomy. Wow and seriously, I call her the Hair Goddess.
Cameron B, Shelly's husband. Police Officer, father of two. Gone. His life lives on but his loss leaves a gaping hole for the Crutcher family. I only met him once. To you Cam.
And one more, Dawn Stufflet's sister--Gone too young.

I am never going to be able to name all of the people I've known or know who have faced this disease but honestly some weeks it feels like it's always Cancer Awareness Week, ya know? I'm writing this to say, Cancer sucks, and it hurts and it is wonderful when prayer and chemo and radiation work in tandem. Miracles and stories of healing keep me going. So, here's to all of those, more than I can name who fought the fight, who are in the fight. You are heroes in my eyes.

If you want to add to this list, feel free to do so. I'd love to hear your stories of courage and triumph and tears. My heart goes out to you.

Until next time...Breathe and be thankful for breath and life and loved ones.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sun-dried Tomato & Spinach Quiche (Torta Rustica)

1 package refrigerated ready piecrusts (Pillsbury)
4 eggs
1 container (16 oz.) part-skim ricotta cheese
4 ounces asiago cheese
1 tsp. coarsely crushed black peppercorns
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 10 oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed & well drained
¼ cup seasoned bread crumbs
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
1 tsp. dried basil

Preheat over to 425. Arrange one piecrust in 9-inch pie pan.
Lightly beat 1 egg over bottom of crust; set aside

In large bowl, combine remaining 3 eggs, ricotta, pepato and parmesan cheese and basil; mix until well blended. Stir in spinach, bread crumbs and tomatoes. Scrape mixture into prepared piecrust. Smooth top to make an even layer.
Place second piecrust over filling; brush remaining beated egg over top. Flute egg & seal.

Bake pie 15 minutes. Reduce over temp to 375*; bake 20 minutes longer, or until golden brown.

Cool pie in pan on wire rack at least 30 minutes before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Up at 6 am

My husband can tell you I'm not a morning person. Well, not a morning person in the sense that I long to rise at the crack of dawn and get my day going. No, I'm more of a lounge in bed person while my hubby puts on the coffee, takes his shower and does man stuff. However, if he turns on too many lights or bangs around a bit while he's getting ready, I'm DONE FOR!!! So, my mind immediately starts racing and the mental "to do list" begins....That's how this morning was. Alarm went off. Hubby hit the snooze button. 7 or 9 minutes later the alarm dings again. So, I laid in bed for a few sweet minutes and said hello to Jesus and thank him for another day of life. I pray for my friends who are struggling in many ways. I pray for my children, all 3 of them. The songs of Jesus Culture begin to make their way into the fiber of my being and I'm up. 6:45 am is early for me folks. But so far, it's been a productive morning. Blogging is just part of what I've got on tap for the day. Laundry has been loaded into the washer. Other load in the dryer. Bed is made. Dishes washed.
It's Wednesday and that means it's my Meals on Wheels delivery day. Ministry opportunity day. 67 degrees and sunny and I have the awesome privilege of spending time with some Greenwood shut-ins and an elderly widower whose great-grand daughter died tragically three weeks ago. All I'm doing is handing out food and giving a few hugs and some loving. But it's a great way to spend my morning and it makes me realize that early mornings sometimes turn into the best kind of days. Until next time...breathe.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Countdown to Kenya

43 days left. 11 in October. 30 in November. 2 in December. My spirit is being stirred towards the things I love about Kenya...children running up to me with huge smiles on their faces...seeing Terry, our sponsorship child...the thrill of tackling our two daughters, Bethany & Erin. Meeting Erin's mother, Debbie for the first time before the wedding on December 10th.
Aaah, Kenya, I am almost ready for you. I know that my heart will break once again when I am faced with poverty, and sights and smells that assault senses. But I know full well that I will see Jesus in the faces of those I meet, because Jesus is everywhere in Kenya.
Yes, I'm almost ready for joy, heartache and the face of Jesus.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

58 Days

Okay, here we are at 58 days til Kenya. Get ready girls. We are coming to see you!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


It is a beast...I wondered how my husband could order a cooking book nearly four inches thick...nay, nay, the equivalent of The Joy of Cooking on steroids. It truly is a monster. But once I cracked open this manual, I began to understand why it is the quintessential cookbook for Italians. The Silver Spoon is prized as the cookbook one generation passes on to the next generation. For many reasons The Silver Spoon is the most successful cookbook in Italy, the book that has its place in every family kitchen, and the one that many brides have received as a wedding gift.
With our summer lake season nearly over, my husband suggested that we as a couple endeavor to cook weekly from The Silver Spoon. Check back later this week for Round 1: Beef Stew with Coffee.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Red dress, orange dress, brown dress??

Some of you know that Erin Titus, our unofficially adopted daughter...or should I say adopted daughter?..., is getting married on December 10th, 2011. Erin is marrying a fantastic man named Robert and their wedding will take place in Kenya (East Africa). So for the last month, I have been hyper-focused on finding the perfect dress to wear to this wedding that will fit in with the bride's color scheme of red, orange and brown. After all I'm an American girl, right? And the American girl has to be color-coordinated, right? Follow me if you will: I am attending a Kenyan wedding in an impoverished country. A country with next to no infrastructure. A country without running water, sewer hook-up or legal electricity. I am rather ashamed to admit the number of hours I have wasted pouring over websites and magazines looking for a dress with sleeves. You see, in Kenya, modesty is still a common courtesy for women of all ages. To wear a tank top or sleeveless dress without a shawl can be interpreted wrongly. And to my way of thinking, Erin's wedding is an important day, one that I don't want to mess up. But...but...I still want to look good if you know what I mean. Last week I ordered a tasteful, red dress from The price was great. The dress fits and and yet I surf the web again only to purchase an alternative dress. A girl's got to have options right? Like I really need options to visit a place like Kenya. Sigh... Fast forward to tonight when I am trying on the second dress I have ordered online for this occasion; the orange dress. The dress with a cap sleeve, fully covering all of my excess skin. Then it hits me squarely between the eye that I have been focused on style, and appearance and functionality. I have not been focused on Kenya, or on the simplicity of visiting a country that I love. I have not been focused on the joy of witnessing the union of two people that I really love. I have not been focused on Jesus. I have been an American woman, for all that it means and does not mean. I have been materialistic in my pursuit of Red dress, orange dress, brown dress. It was at that moment that I realized I already had something in the closet that would work just fine. A patterned red dress that just needs a simple shawl. Perfect. I can hardly wait for the next challenge for this upcoming journey... Until then...breathe Denine

Monday, September 26, 2011

Countdown to Kenya

Last weekend my husband suggested I resume blogging. I resisted because I simply have not felt the creative urge in quite some time. Some people say either you're a writer or you're not. Well, I suppose then that I am a struggling blogger, a person who only writes when the mood strikes. Should I work on this flaw? Yes, I should. Over the next 2 months I will be documenting The Countdown to Kenya. We are returning to Nairobi, Kenya on December 3rd to visit old friends and to attend the wedding of our second daughter, Erin Titus. We sort of adopted Miss Titus in the spring of 2009 when she came to live with us for approximately nine months. She is now a part of the Ziegler family. While in Kenya, my husband and I will also reconnect with our sponsor child, Terry. She is a precious little girl who gets to attend school and learn about Jesus. We receive such joy from her adorable letters and drawings!!! So, here goes. Kenya bound December 2nd, arriving at Nairobi Jobo Kenyatta International airport for another whirlwind visit to a country and people we have grown to love. 68 days and counting!!! Unless, of course my math is off...

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I don't know what it feels like to be persecuted for my faith. As an American living a comfortable life in a quaint small town, churches abound. In fact, the town of Greenwood has more than 100 churches to choose from. That means that whether I am a practicing Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant, Presbyterian, Fundamentalist, Pentecostal, Baptist, Free Baptist, Southern Baptist, Assembly of God, or Jew I have a place of worship.

And yet as much as "church" feels like home, I take for granted these glorious privileges that American believers have here on our own soil. If I lived in Kenya for instance, I might have to walk 5 miles or at least 5 kilometers to get to a church meeting. Then I might have to catch a bus another 5 kilometers. If I lived in China, or India I might still be forced to find an underground church service that was secretly being held in the basement of someone's home or business. I would probably live in some kind of fear that my faith would be discovered.

I guess am pondering what persecution was like for the disciples, and those living in countries other than the USA. Would I be able to handle this loss of freedom--the freedom to pick and choose where I attend church? Or the freedom to start up a conversation in Walmart with someone wearing a Christian t-shirt? Here, I can freely share my faith. Here, I can church hop, not that I wholly approve of that practice.

But really, we've got it made people. We are not often faced with any real persecution. Yeah, we might catch some flack from our friends or family members who see us as religious or Jesus Freaks. That's cool, but it's certainly not persecution until we are forced to defend our faith and our freedom. Yeah, we have more freedom than we realize, and a boatload of Good News to share.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Everything is Spiritual

For several years we have followed Rob Bell's through his podcasts and Nooma DVD series. We have found his insights helpful for group conversations and learning. Sometimes he asks a lot of questions. I find questions are a great way for communities to discuss and grow their faith.

These days Allen and I both wonder why Christ-followers are not listening to each other and discussing big questions before we take rigid positions or make comments. It seems to me conversation and discussing viewpoints is good and healthy. We can not do that without reading and listening to others before we take a position.

I thought you may enjoy this segment from Rob Bell's "Everything is Spiritual" sessions. There is more on Youtube if you are interested.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Defiant Jesus?? What's this?

Our church is currently doing a study entitled, "The Controversial Jesus" by Erwin McManus. McManus is the lead pastor of a church in California called Mosaic. Here is one of the quotes from this study that struck me profoundly: "Jesus is defiant to a faith without compassion. He is defiant to any religion that uses its rules and its belief systems to justify lack of compassion and concern."

My heart tells me that this is true. Unspeakable things continue to turn atheists, agnostics, homosexuals, alcoholics, drug addicts, lost souls and those of other faiths away from us. They want nothing to do with us. It's rather discouraging when Christianity threatens to burn the Qur'an (Koran).

Is there a point when we as Christ followers can defy "religion" and "belief systems" not only through our conversion but also through our actions? I'm thinking of actions that Jesus himself would approve of, not the official church. Actions such as compassion, and love and peaceful conversation. I guess I'm at the point where I'm ready to defy if it means acting out of concern for my fellow man or woman or child. Defiant Jesus. Pretty radical yes, but right on target.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Favorite recipe of the week

Okay, this has been a pretty exciting culinary week in the Ziegler household! Allen and I made a roasted beet salad topped with crumbled feta and toasted pine nuts. These were not the nasty canned beets of my childhood that I purposefully hid in my dinner napkin when my mother was not looking.
Then then were there were the Chocolate Bacon Truffles which we cannot and will not be sharing!!! Yes, it was another glorious Bacon week. Here is my meager but delicious contribution to the food treasure trove of recipes we tried and fell in love with.

"Corn & Dill Cakes" (recipe called for Basil but I was forced to substitute Dill)

1/2 cup white whole-wheat flour or all-purpose flour works fine
1/2 cup low-fat milk
2 large eggs
2 T canola oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups fresh corn kernels (or 2 cups frozen corn)
1/2 cup fresh chopped dill or basil

1. Whisk flour, milk, eggs, 1 tablespoon oil, baking powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until smooth. Stir in corn and dill or herb or choice.
2. Brush a large nonstick skillet or griddle lightly with some of the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil; heat over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Cook 4 cakes at a time, using about 1/2 cup batter for each, making them about 3 inches wide. Cook until edges are dry; about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, 1 to 3 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining oil and batter, making 10 cakes total. Reduce the heat as necessary to prevent burning.

Allen topped his griddle cakes with a dollop of sour cream, like you would a potato pancake (latke).

Monday, April 11, 2011

feed me

Many of you know we have a 23 year-old daughter serving on the mission field in the slums of Mathare, outside of Nairobi, Kenya. Bethany took this picture on her first trip to Kenya in the summer of 2008. This photo represents how important it is to feed the hungry, clothe the needy and to care for the orphans whether they live in your hometown or thousands of miles away.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Please accept my apologies...

Apparently, some of you are receiving my blog posts in duplicate, or even triplicate. I have no idea why this is happening but will investigate. I truly only click "publish" one time.
My deepest apologies. I don't want to make you crazy!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cindy's Red Wine Shortribs

I am so excited to post one of the great recipes I borrowed from my friend Cindy. So here is the first one. Get your slow cooker or crock pot ready. More too follow.

Serves 4

2 C. dry red wine
2 T. tomato paste
1 packet au jus gravy mix
1/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
8 shallots, halved
8 beef short ribs (approximately 3 lbs.)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

In slow cooker, whisk together red wine, tomato paste, gravy packet, salt, pepper and thyme.

Add the ribs, placing them meatiest side down. Cover and cook until the meat is very tender, on low 8 to 10 hours; high 4-6 hours. Add shallots. You may also add mushrooms if you like.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ribs to a plate. Using a ladle, skim and discard any fat from the sauce. Spoon sauce over ribs and sprinkle with parsley.

This is great served with garlic mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Where would I be?

So I often wonder where I would be without Jesus in my life. I mean, would I know what peace is, spiritually and emotionally speaking? Would I recognize contentment if I saw it? Would I have learned that all of the money and possessions and stuff this world has to offer could never bring me happiness? I don't think so. As a 46 year-old I might still be searching for these real but unseen values in life.

Religion is so not the answer. This photograph represents a gorgeous church in Savannah, Georgia. This church doesn't even hold the answers to life's big questions. A relationship with Jesus holds the answers. Simply put, He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. If you are wondering where to find some answers, look to Him...not a building, not his people, not your friends or family. Just look to Jesus. The answers will come if you ask.